Hiking the 4T trail: an annual tradition

4T Trail 11

Each year around this time, we pick a sunny weekend day to hike Portland’s 4T Trail:

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This year, we started by parking downtown and catching MAX (that’s the “Train” – the 1st “T”) to the Oregon Zoo station.  From there, we walked a short distance to the start of the Marquam Nature Park trail (the 2nd “T”).

4T Trail 2

The trail runs mostly uphill for the first 1.3 miles, and gave us an opportunity to spot local wildlife – namely, banana slugs and surprisingly large snails:

4T Trail 1

4T Trail 3

The trail comes to the top at Council Crest, which on a sunny day provides an extraordinary view of downtown Portland and four mountains:  Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and – only when it’s exceptionally clear (as it was on our day), Mt. Rainier:

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We explored some of the interesting historical markers at the top of Council Crest, and then headed back onto the trail:

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From this point, the trail continues for another 1.7 miles, almost exclusively downhill – sometimes rather steeply, and oftentimes very rocky.  We saw trillium, sweet woodruff, Oregon grape, sword and licorice ferns, and many other native plants:

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4T Trail 5

At the bottom of the trail, we rested at the Marquam Shelter, which has a lot of great information about the history and wildlife of the area, as well as a truly beautiful community-created mosaic:

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4T Trail 6

From there, we hiked the final .6 miles up to Oregon Health Sciences University, to catch the tram.  OHSU has a beautiful, sprawling campus, with a hodgepodge of buildings and some pretty garden areas, as well:

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4T Trail 7

While we were able to enjoy the extraordinary view from the top of the tram (the 3rd “T”), unfortunately we weren’t able to ride it because it was closed for the holiday (which seems very shortsighted of the operator, given how many tourists were visiting and were vocally unhappy to find the tram not running!)

4T Trail 8

Undeterred, we used our iPhone’s handy map app and walked down to the south waterfront – which was accomplished in only 30 minutes, adding only an extra 1.5 (downhill) miles our so to our journey.  Once there, we stopped at Lovejoy Bakery for a much-needed lunch break:

4T Trail 9

Refreshed, we caught the Portland streetcar (or trolley – the 4th “T”) back up to SW Portland, where we had begun:

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Because it was my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, we ended our outing at St. Cupcake to celebrate:

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4T Trail 10

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